Cherries, on top

Why the flavorful and summery superfood packs a big punch in a single bite.

Vibrant, juicy and immensely flavorful, cherries are one of summer’s best superfoods. June is their peak season so you will find the little red fruit spilling over on supermarket shelves, streetside stands and farmers market tables. They come in two varieties: sweet or tart. Sweet cherries such as the Bing version are what we think of when we reminisce about spitting pits. While you won’t find tart cherries at the farmer’s market this June (they only come frozen, dried or in juice form) they tout even greater superfood powers, so keep them in your pantry for the rest of the year.

It’s true that tart cherries contain higher levels of anthocyanins, compounds responsible for reducing inflammation in the body by combating oxidative stress (aka antioxidants), but sweet cherries are also a great source of these compounds. Studies also show that anthocyanins can help relieve muscle pain after an intense bout of exercise. So after that double spin class, grab a handful of cherries along with your tall glass of water.

When buying cherries, just make sure to look for those with the darkest skin color, as this signifies a higher level of antioxidants. Then enjoy them as a snack, toss into your favorite salad or smoothie, or try the recipe below:

Cherry, Arugula, and Forbidden Rice Salad

Serves 4

3 c. arugula
1 c. pitted and halved Bing cherries
1 c. cooked forbidden black rice
½ c. goat cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1. Sauté the red onion until soft, about eight minutes.
2. Combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Whisk to combine and toss with the arugula.
4. Add cherries, rice, red onion, and crumbled goat cheese. Toss to combine.
5. Serve with a bit of fresh black pepper grated on top.

Nationally recognized nutrition expert and author Keri Glassman (@KeriGlassman) is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.